Sunni, Shiite groups in Iraq’s crisis explained

Sunni, Shiite groups in Iraq’s crisis explained


JUNE 15, 2014 1:42PM

A LIGHTNING offensive by the Sunni group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, has sparked the biggest crisis Iraq has faced since it plunged into sectarian violence following the US-led invasion of the country in 2003. Here’s a look at the group at the centre of the crisis.

What is ISIS?

ISIS is the successor organisation to al-Qa’ida in Iraq, started by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi a few years before the 2003 US-led invasion of the country. AQI pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida in 2004, and its Sunni fighters devoted themselves to attacking American forces and terrorising the Shiite-led government in Baghdad that took over after Saddam Hussein’s ouster.

What is the group’s goal?

ISIS and its Iraqi leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, primarily aims to establish a radical Sunni Islamist state in the Levant region of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus and southern Turkey.

How did the situation swell out of control?

The latest violence began in late December when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered security forces to disperse an anti-Maliki protest camp in Ramadi that he claimed was an incubator for al-Qa’ida. Thousands of well-armed Islamist militants rose up in early January in the surrounding province of Anbar and seized Ramadi, the provincial capital, and Fallujah, a restive city less than an hour from Baghdad. ISIS’s massive, sophisticated weapons arsenal suggested that the group had been importing weapons from Syria, said one Iraqi Army general.

What is Iraq doing to stop ISIS’s advancement?

Iran has deployed some of its Revolutionary Guard forces to fight the militants and has helped Iraqi troops win back control of most of Tikrit. They are also helping guard Baghdad and the cities of Najaf and Karbala.

Shiite leaders have issued a call to arms to fight back.

Separately, Iraq is requesting the accelerated delivery of pledged US military support, particularly Apache helicopters, F-16 fighters and surveillance equipment, to help push back the insurgent fighters.

Iran has also deployed units to guard the capital and other Shiite holy cities.

Has the price of oil been affected?

Oil prices hit their highest levels since September. The militants’ continued advance fuelled fears that Iraq’s ample oil production could be threatened.



About bambooinnovator
KB Kee is the Managing Editor of the Moat Report Asia (, a research service focused exclusively on highlighting undervalued wide-moat businesses in Asia; subscribers from North America, Europe, the Oceania and Asia include professional value investors with over $20 billion in asset under management in equities, some of the world’s biggest secretive global hedge fund giants, and savvy private individual investors who are lifelong learners in the art of value investing. KB has been rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as an analyst in Asian capital markets. He was head of research and fund manager at a Singapore-based value investment firm. As a member of the investment committee, he helped the firm’s Asia-focused equity funds significantly outperform the benchmark index. He was previously the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. KB has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy, value investing, macroeconomic and industry trends, and detecting accounting frauds in Singapore, HK and China. KB was a faculty (accounting) at SMU teaching accounting courses. KB is currently the Chief Investment Officer at an ASX-listed investment holdings company since September 2015, helping to manage the listed Asian equities investments in the Hidden Champions Fund. Disclaimer: This article is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute an offer, recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any investments, securities, futures or options. All articles in the website reflect the personal opinions of the writer.

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